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CarPlay for BMW X3: How To Set Up?

Bianka Rommel

Apr 28, 2022

CarPlay for BMW X3: How To Set Up?

Sure, it’s great when your urban SUV can boast an economical fuel consumption, quiet engine or generous boot space, but let's face it – it’s the infotainment gizmos like BMW Apple CarPlay that make it practical with a big “P” and truly relaxing to cruise in. Google Maps addicts will know exactly what we’re talking about.

And the best part, having Apple CarPlay in BMW X3 isn’t reserved only for the latest G01 model. You can in fact add this capacious system for iPhone apps even to your 2010 F25 BMW X3 without compromising any of its OEM iDrive features. 

Whichever model you drive, setting up Apple CarPlay shouldn’t be a hurdle – we’re gonna prove that down below.

Apple CarPlay in BMW X3 

Apple CarPlay in BMW X3

If getting an X3 was all about enjoying the comfortable drive downtown and safe holiday getaways with your family, then BMW Apple CarPlay is an integral part of the experience you can’t go without.

It all lies in familiarity. Apple’s solution allows you to display the apps already existing on your phone onto the BMW X3 screen and operate with features you’ve grown to know and trust – 

like popping the next track on your YouTube music playlist with the steering wheel buttons or setting the quickest Google Maps route through the town using Siri voice command. 

The only caveat here is in order to add the app to BMW X3 Apple CarPlay it ought to be driver-focused. So while your favorite navigation apps, communicators and music apps are more than welcome to the hub, unfortunately HBO… you’re out. Check the best BMW CarPlay apps to use on the road.

When did BMW X3 get Apple CarPlay?

In BMW X3 Apple CarPlay appeared with the coming of the 2017 F25 featuring NBT Evo ID5/6 iDrive. All later X3s have Apple CarPlay activation optioned in.

Don’t know which head unit you have? Decode your VIN and we’ll send you your car specifications via email in the form of a PDF file.


How to add Apple CarPlay to BMW X3? 

How to add Apple CarPlay to BMW X3“Activation optioned in”? Well, unfortunately not all high-tech perks are free and ready to set up right from the get go ;) BMW likes to hide features in their iDrive systems, especially the latest ones. Even though they’ve given up on making Apple CarPlay subscription based, in vehicles like the 2017+ BMW X3 Apple CarPlay is still available as an option to unlock with coding. 

That doesn’t mean of course earlier models have to miss out. With solutions such as BimmerTech’s CarPlay MMI Prime retrofit you can add wireless CarPlay & Android Auto even to your 2010 BMW X3 F25 and transform your outdated CIC iDrive into a modern infotainment hub.

How to activate CarPlay in a BMW X3? 

So let’s say your 2020 BMW X3 Apple CarPlay needs unlocking – how do you do that? You can either spend hours on going to your dealer and have him fix it for a considerate amount of $$$. Or you can order BimmerTech’s BMW Apple CarPlay activation and have the option unlocked at home within max 30 minutes via USB or cable coding, depending on your BMW X3 head unit.

USB activation

The USB CarPlay coding process will be fairly straightforward to perform on your own. All you need to do is to save the coding file that we send to you in an email to a USB stick and connect it to your car. After following a few instructions, the Apple CarPlay software will be available on your BMW X3 screen.

Check out how the BMW X3 Apple CarPlay activation process might work, with the example of the BMW G12.

Cable coding

For BMW X3s compatible with cable coding the process will be equally simple to carry out during a remote coding session with our BimmerTech technician. Just plug in the cable you receive from us, follow the instructions from our technician and enjoy your Apple CarPlay within 30 minutes.

In some cases, your BMW X3 may additionally need a WiFi antenna to enable a wireless connection between your iPhone and the head unit. Check here if your vehicle needs one, and if so — order it with us. 

How to get full screen Apple CarPlay for BMW X3? 

how to get full screen Apple CarPlay for BMW X3Having CarPlay in X3 is already an advantage, but to uncover its entire potential it’s best to use the apps at a full screen width, don’t you think? By default, BMW X3 comes with split-screen CarPlay displaying a total of eight apps per screen. So if you already have it and you’d like to give your apps more room to shine just to grasp all the important information at a glance, activate BMW Apple CarPlay full-screen.  It will allow you to display your running app on the whole screen width and have as many as ten apps per page.

If you don’t have Apple CarPlay in your X3 yet, our BMW Apple CarPlay activation will unlock the full screen mode by default – again if applicable for your car. 

How to set up Apple CarPlay in a BMW X3?

Once Apple CarPlay is activated in your BMW X3, it’s time to pair it up with your iPhone. Here’s how to set it up: 

1. Activate Bluetooth and WiFi on your iPhone.

2. Go to the ‘Communication’ menu in your BMW X3’s iDrive.

3. Select ‘Mobile Devices’.

4. Choose ‘New Device’.

5. Pick ‘Phone calls and audio via Bluetooth or Apple CarPlay’.

6. Select your phone on the BMW X3’s screen.

7. Select ‘Pair’ once you see a ‘A Bluetooth Pairing Request’ prompt.

8. Select ‘Allow’ on Allow Contacts and Favorites Sync prompt.

9. Then a ‘Use CarPlay with BMW?’ prompt will automatically appear on your iPhone. Tap on ‘Use CarPlay’.

10. Again on your BMW X3 screen select’ Confirm note and connect to Apple CarPlay’.

11. Choose your phone name under ‘Connected Devices’.

12. Select ‘Connection Mode’ and then ‘Apple CarPlay’

13. Once the Apple CarPlay icon appears on the X3 home screen, press it to launch CarPlay.

You can go back to your native BMW X3 infotainment system display by selecting the BMW icon in Apple CarPlay.

How to retrofit Apple CarPlay in BMW X3? 

If your BMW X3 F25 was produced before 2017 and misses OEM Apple CarPlay, you’ve got two options to add it in.

First, is a full BMW X3 F25 head unit upgrade to NBT EVO ID5/6, which comes with a lot of added benefits, such as a BMW X3 screen upgrade, iDrive Touch controller, Video & Services in motion, Voice Control, pre-installed Apple CarPlay functionality and more. 

However, if you’re not keen on performing such an advanced project you might want to consider the second option of including an aftermarket CarPlay retrofit to your X3.

This hardware upgrade will bring you the functions and look of the wireless OEM Apple CarPlay and let you display your favorite iPhone apps on your factory BMW X3 screen. Plus, introduce the Android Auto functionality so that you and your friends could pair up your Android devices in a breeze as well. In any case all apps will be available to control using the Siri voice assistant, iDrive controller or steering wheel buttons – you choose the most convenient way :)


How to install CarPlay MMI Retrofit in a BMW X3? 

How to install CarPlay MMI Retrofit in a BMW X3

What’s even more convenient about this BMW X3 CarPlay retrofit is its straightforward plug & play install procedure, making it an approachable project even for those who are usually not so keen on tinkering under the hood.

The big thing is - it requires no permanent modifications or remote coding so it’s completely lease friendly and relatively quick to do it on your own. But that of course depends on your BMW X3 head unit version. For an NBT iDrive system or newer, 2 hours on average will do. In the case of the CIC iDrive system, the process may be slightly more complex and require around 4 hours of your spare time.

A basic overview of the BMW CarPlay upgrade install procedure revolves around disassembling the upper and lower trim as well as the faceplate on the dash to get to the head unit, where you’ll find yourself unscrewing and disconnecting different bits. Then, pulling the head unit out and connecting it to the MMI module with the supplied harness. And lastly plugging in the new cable from the MMI to the screen. 

If your BMW X3 is equipped with a Combox module you’ll additionally have to run one cable from the MMI to the OEM microphone in the headliner and another to the AUX port in the armrest – both cables will be supplied.

Take a look how the CarPlay installation for BMW X3 might look like:

BMW Apple CarPlay installation near me

BMW X3 CarPlay retrofit was made with DIYers in mind – meaning all installation projects are backed up by step-by-step PDF instructions and video tutorials, as well as full over-the-phone or email support of our technicians. NO ONE will be left alone in this ;) 

However, if DIYing is truly out of the question for you and you’d rather give away such a project in the hands of experienced technicians close to your place, our authorized installers might perform the installation for you. Just give them a call to schedule the session.

Other BMW X3 upgrades

other BMW X3 upgradesFor folks who hunger for even more high-tech for their X3s, there’s a pile of upgrades taking your vehicle into 2022. From 6WB cluster and navigation retrofits, through plenty of coding options, to backup cameras and BMW audio upgrades – you’ll surely find something that meets your eye and makes your urban SUV stand out from the crowd.

Learn all about upgrading your BMW X3.

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